Golf Betting Tips: Prediction Model

Betfair’s Prediction Model provides golf betting tips for the PGA and tournaments. The data science tool rates every player’s probability for a particular course. It knows the strengths of each player, pulling data from PGA Tour Stats, and what courses they suit. As well as recent form and a variety of other metrics.

You get golf betting tips, and complimenting copy, each week on the Betfair Hub. Plus you can see the model outputs for every player. Compare those with the odds on the Betfair Exchange and you’ll identify value betting opportunities. Both to Lay and to Back.

Current Profit and Loss

Total Units Staked: 21

Total Units Returned: 15.50

ROI:  -26.19%

Our picks improved somewhat last week, with a couple of fancies getting top 20s, but we’re still searching for the big priced win. It’s a tough game backing straight wins but we’re happy with the approach, just expect returns to be very lumpy.

A huge purse awaits the winner of this week’s Players Championship and it has attracted the biggest names from both Tours to an event often referred to as the ‘Firth Major’.

It’s earnt that moniker not just for the big prize money, but the difficulty of the TPC Sawgrass course, which sees 88 sand traps and 17 water hazards defending its 7,189 layout – resulting in the third highest double bogey rate on Tour. The course does offer up a couple of eagle opportunities on the 2nd and 16th hole, both of those par 5s.

Weather-wise it’s looking like there’ll be a reasonable breeze blowing for most of the week, with the biggest differential between AM/PM conditions coming on the first day, with early winds up to 10km/h lighter than later in the day.

With wind in play, we expect players to club down off the tee so we’ll focus our picks on value plays with good approach and around the green play.

Over the Odds

Patrick Cantlay

The young gun has been one of the most consistent players on Tour over the last two season so we’re going to back him every time he comes up as a value play.

 BACK – Cantlay for 1 unit at $44+

Gary Woodland

The market continues to underrate G-Wood, a man who has really found his game over the last 12 months or so. It’s only a matter of time before he turns his top-10 finishes into a win.

 BACK – Gary for 0.5 units at $70+

Jason Kokrak

Speaking of players who have found their games, Kokrak has been posting strong finish after strong finish lately. He’s always been capable of an opening round flyer but lately has been bringing it over all four rounds.

 BACK – Kokrak for 0.25 units at $200+

With the big names from Europe enjoying the Floridian hospitality we’re left with a weakened field lining up in Nairobi for the Kenya Open. The course has been a regular on the Challenge Tour so we’ve had a good look at the near 6,920 yard setup, which due to the altitude plays closer to a ridiculous 6,400 yards.

Without much difficult making it to the greens, this tournament usually turns into a putting contest which unfortunately makes it very hard to predict, given the fickle nature of putting performance. The Kikuyu grass should favour golfers from the continent, with South Africans faring particularly well here over the years.

Winds will be up most of the week with the AM/PM wave differential being similar on the opening two days.

Over the Odds

Erik Van Rooyen

While the model isn’t saying this is a value play, you simply have to back a South African in this tournament and he’s the best value chance on the board.

 BACK – Van Rooyen for 0.5 units at $23+

Seungsu Han

His price here is somewhat due to not playing many tournaments but we’ll back a bloke who makes cuts on the PGA circuit in a field as weak as this one.

 BACK – Han for 0.25 units at $42+

Previous Tournaments

The Florida Swing continues this week as a select field of 123 golfers play for the prestigious red cardigan in memory of the tournament’s namesake. The event has been played at the same location in Bay Hill, Orlando since 1979 and an Arnie owned and designed 7,419 par 72.

It’s a difficult setup, with long approaches and heavily bunkered greens and fairways to accompany the nine water hazards. Birdieing the par 5s is key to success with Tiger using this strategy to good effect on his way to four victories here.

Players regarded as strong putters have succeeded here over the years, however our analysis has shown that putting form is the streakiest of all so we won’t be leaning on it.

Rory Mac has been installed as a very short favourite, not surprising given his recent slew of top 5 finishes and his win here last year, but in a field of this quality the market looks to have gone a bit too hard. In fact the market appears to have gotten carried away with most of the big names, meaning we’ll need to look further afield for value plays.

Over the Odds

Hideki Matsuyama

After a blistering start to his career, Hideki has cooled somewhat but seems to have pulled himself out of a long form slump from the highs of 2017. His last two showings at this tournament have been poor which likely explains his generous price. Simply too good a golfer not to get another win soon.

 BACK – Hideki for 0.75 units at $34+

Charles Howell III

In a rare vein of form right now which has seen him rocket up our ratings to his highest ever. We’ll take any value we can get on a bloke playing the best golf of his life.

 BACK – Howell for 0.5 units at $85+

Aaron Wise

The youngster has missed a bunch of cuts lately but that’s to be expected of a young man figuring out his game. We’ll take the long odds offered on a bloke who has proven he has what it takes to win.

 BACK – Wise for 0.25 units at $150+

The final event of the Arabian Swing, the Qatar Masters is the OG Arabian event – having been played since 1998. Prize money was reduced last year, which has seen a consequent reduction in field strength.

Another typical desert course, wind if the main defence however they are numerous water hazards in the form of artificial lakes. As long as these can be avoided, the forgiving rough means fairways can really be attacked, with little fear of a poor lie should they stray from the short stuff – this is definitely a week to target the big hitters.

Big winds are forecast all week so players with a solid links history will be at a distinct advantage.

In a field that could only be described as intensely mediocre, the market has latched on to Thomas Pieters. We’re going to swerve the top of the board and go hunting for a few long shots further down.

Over the Odds

Fabrizio Zanotti

With higher winds forecast again this week we’re happy to lean on form from last week where conditions were very similar. Despite his strong finish in Oman, we were surprised to see some value in Zanotti’s price – we’ll take it where we can get it!

 BACK – Zanotti for 0.75 units at $55+

Victor Perez

Absolutely tore up the Challenge Tour at the back end of last year reeling off eight top 20 finishes in a row. He’s stepped up to the big leagues and continued the strong form. He did struggle with the wind a little last week but should be better for the experience.

 BACK – Perez for 0.5 units at $95+

Paul Waring

Another who struggled in the wind last week, we’ll give the benefit of the doubt given his great distance off the tee and performed well a couple of weeks back in Abu Dhabi. The big overlay helps too.

 BACK – Waring for 0.25 units at $140+.

A rampant DJ near lapped the field last week as our poor run of form continued. The Tour heads back over the border this week as the Honda Classic kicks off the Florida Swing.

A reasonably weak, Tiger-less field will take on the Championship Course at PGA National. The course is pretty much the most difficult on Tour outside of the Majors due to a combination of regular winds and a huge amount of water in play. This puts a premium on hitting greens as if you miss, you’ll likely end up in the drink.

The wind forecast is looking unusually light, with a slight edge to AM tee times on Friday where there is barely a breath of breeze.

With the big names dominating proceedings lately, it’s no surprise that the model isn’t finding a lot of value up the top of the board and overall the market has done a pretty solid job this week.

Over the Odds

Zach Johnson

The other Johnson has had a quiet start to the season, participating in just five events. During these events, he’s continued his strong approach game form from last season, which should see him perform well here.

 BACK – ZJ for 0.5 units at $90 or better.

Harold Varner

The two missed cuts in recent events notwithstanding, Varner is in the best form of his career posting s aeries of strong results in the tail end of last season and the start of this one. The market is clearly only seeing those MCs so the price is just silly.

 BACK – Harold for 0.25 units at $220+

The Euro continues its meanderings along the Arabian Peninsula as the Al Mouj Club hosts just the second instalment of the Oman Open. The course was used on the Challenge Tour for five years prior to being upgraded so we’ve had a reasonable look at what it has to offer.

The Greg Norman design is as you would expect for a course in the desert – flat, sandy and largely exposed to the gusty Gulf winds. There’ll be a distinct advantage for the Thursday AM wave as the winds are forecast to be at their lightest for the week before increasing throughout the day and really taking off on Friday and Saturday.

With most of Europe’s stars either over the US or sitting this one out, we’re left with your fairly standard Euro Tour crap shoot.

Over the Odds

Victor Dubuisson

The comeback kid Dubui has been steadily working his way higher up leaderboards since his return last year and against a very weak field we like him to jump up to the next level and make his comeback complete.

 BACK – Victor for 0.5 units at $60 or better.

Andrea Pavan

The Italian tees off in the key Thursday AM wave and we like him to recapture his form from late 2018, which saw him nail a flurry of top 20s as well as a maiden victory.

 BACK – Pavan for 0.5 units at $80+

Mikko Korhonen

A pure value play, Korhonen proved last year that he has what it takes to get up to the top of the leaderboard – even if his performances in between aren’t anything to write home about.

 BACK – Mikko for 0.25 units at $130+

The sooner we can put last week behind us the better as our hopefuls managed just one good round between them. At least we can be certain all of our fancies will play the full four round this week as the International Federation of PGA Tours (basically a conglomerate of all major pro Tours) hosts the no-cut World Golf Championship event in Mexico.

The event sees the top 50 ranked players on the official rankings join the top ranked players from the Fedex Cup, European Tour and sprinkling of the top names from the lesser Tours to form a 70-man field. Club de Golf Chapultepec hosts the event for the third year. The high altitude course plays much shorter than its listed 7,345 yards and removes length from the equation almost entirely.

While the altitude will help the shorter hitters keep up, it does introduce an element of guesswork on approach as balls will fly much further than golfers are used to – this makes scrambling a key metric to focus on this week, as balls will likely be flying all around the greens. The kikuyu grass from last week’s event returns so we might be chasing the South Africans again.

The weather should not be a factor at all with conditions looking perfect throughout the week. The market is all over JT after his runner up last week and strong performances at the course and DJ’s course history has him too short as well. This should open up some strong values plays further down the board.

Over the Odds

Gary Woodland

We’ll start by pointing out Woodland’s scrambling game isn’t what we were after, but the man is currently in an incredible vein of form that has seen him finish top ten in 6 of his last 8 events, including two runner-ups. The fact that out model takes a while to catch up to recent form but still rates him ahead of the market is very encouraging.

 BACK – Gary for 0.75 units at $50 or better.

Webb Simpson

A much closer profile to what we were after, Simpson is an elite around the green player and another bloke in the best form of his career. He loses strokes off the tee, which is the only weak point in his otherwise stellar all round game – that should not hold him back this week. Not the biggest overlay but we are loving the course fit.

 BACK – Webb for 0.75 units at $55+

Louis Oosthuizen

He let us down last week with a very poor showing on his way to a missed cut, but we’re sticking with him this week (memories of backing Rickie a week before his victory are still fresh). The high altitude and kikuyu should remind him of home and his around the green game is strong.

 BACK – Oost for 0.25 units at $110+

Glover gave it a good shake for us last week, sticking with the leaders until fading in the last round and a half or so. He traded much lower than his $230 price we tipped him so hopefully some followers hedged out for a nice profit.

The Tour returns to a single course format this week, with a regulation size field tackling the Riviera Country Club course. The field is of extremely high quality with Bryson returning from his adventures in the deserts and is joined by a couple more of Europe’s finest.

The setup at RCC has remained largely unchanged since first hosting the event in 1926 and while not super long on paper, there are six very long par 4s and two par 5s that stretch over 580 yards. It’s no wonder DJ has been put up as favourite this week – you’ll need length to succeed here.

There’s a high chance of much needed rain for the LA area, which may limit the advantage of the bigger hitters if it stops the fairways carrying.

Not much value about this week, with the big names either fairly or underpriced.

Over the Odds

Louis Oosthuizen

Quite ironic that we usually favour the PGA players when they play Euro events and yet this week we like a couple of Euros playing Stateside. The Oost has been in ripping form lately with four top 10s in his last 5 starts and he should feel right at home on the Kikuyu grass which is common in his native South Africa.

 BACK – The Oost to win for 0.5 units at $60 or better.

Tyrrell Hatton

The Englishman gets some serious distance off the tee, despite his diminutive proportions and has improved his driving distance pretty much every year on Tour. Comes into this off a week’s rest and in arguably the best form of his career.

 BACK – Hatton for 0.5 units at $100 or better

Luke List

More of a course fit play, although helped by the hefty overlay, List hasn’t exactly been lighting it up lately. But he’s shown that when he gets the big stick humming nicely he can keep up with the big names.

 BACK – List for 0.25 units at $180 or better.

We’re running up against the deadline this week so only have to time for a quick brag about last week: go DJ (we were a week early on Rickie unfortunately), and a quick note on the courses this week: they’re short.

With that out of the way, on to the tips.

Over the Odds

Tony Finau

We’re sticking with the big unit, despite his struggles last week. While this course is short, DJ’s past successes here demonstrate the big hitters aren’t at a disadvantage. The market continues to under-rate him based on his so-so early season form.

 BACK – Big Tony for 1 unit at $26+.

Lucas Glover

Comes into this tournament in ripping form, with the flat stick the only hole in his game at the moment. Given the hugely variable nature of putting form, we’re happy to back him and hope for a big positive variance on the greens to complement his tee-to-green form, which proves much reliable future predictor.

 BACK – Glover for 0.25 units at $230+.

We got our season going last week as our man Bryson taught the Euros a golf lesson as he cruised to victory in Dubai. It’s not easy backing for the win only so it’s nice to put one on the board early. The result did mask a very poor week with our PGA picks so we’ll be putting in extra hours this week for our three picks.

The PGA leaves California this week and heads to Arizona for the greatest show on grass. Crowds are unusually raucous at the event as it usually coincides with the Super Bowl weekend, as is the case this week. The notorious par-3 16th is enclosed by a 20,000 seat grandstand, often populated with Arizona State University students cheering on their man Phil Mickelson. The Arizona State alumnus must like the attention as he has won here three times.

The course plays as a par-71, with a length of 7,100 yards. Off the tee play is the key stat here, although not necessarily just raw distance. With the crowds on the back 9 particularly intense, we’ll be focussing on proven performers who should be able to handle the increased pressure of louder than average golf fans riding their every shot.

The morning/afternoon waves can exhibit dramatic distances as the early morning dew dries out and the ball bounces much further in the afternoon.

With all this in mind, we’ll be chasing big overlays on blokes with great off the tee play and a strong record in big tournaments.

Over the Odds

Tony Finau

Big Tony fits our target perfectly this week and quite frankly, given the overlay on offer we would’ve picked him regardless. He’s arguably the most underrated player on Tour and our model has him neck and neck with the much more fancied Jon Rahm.

He goes big off the tee, has performed well in Majors and we think he has the type of personality that will suit the boisterous gallery.

 BACK – Big Tony for 1 unit @ $24+.

Alex Noren

The Swede doesn’t quite have the big stick chops we were seeking but he should’ve knocked the rust off last week after backing up a poor first round with an excellent second round to just miss the cut. We liked what we were seeing at the tail end of 2018 and think the strong form will continue.

 BACK – Noren for 0.5 units @ $85 or better

Steve Stricker

OK, we’ve gradually strayed from our target here as the Strick isn’t’ exactly an off the tee specialist. We do think his experience will help him navigate the loud back nine and the overlay is just ridiculous.

 BACK – Stricker for 0.25 units @ $450+.

Another week on the Euro, another sandy Emirate playing host. This week sees the King Abdullah Economic City host Saudi Arabia’s first Euro event as golf continues to expand along the Arabian Peninsula.

Without seeing much of the course we won’t spend long on speculative analysis but we can say this isn’t really one for the bombers, with a length of only 6,900 yards and only two par-5s.

Wind certainly looks like it will be in play so we’ll go out a limb and say shorter hitting links-loving players should be the ones to watch this week.

Over the Odds

Justin Rose

Fresh off trouncing a strong PGA field last week, Rose solidified his number 1 ranking on our model. Against the lesser lights of Europe we like him, even at the short odds on offer this week.

 BACK – JR for 0.5 unit at $8+.

Dustin Johnson

Should be better for the hit out last week and has hopefully acclimatised to the desert conditions. The short course cancels out his biggest strength somewhat, we feel DJ is a good enough player to succeed even without leaning on the boom stick.

 BACK – DJ for 0.5 units at $10+.

Henrik Stenson

Hasn’t been in the best of the form, but the short track should suit his accurate driving. Pretty great overlay available so we’ll round out our tips with a throwback to a couple of weeks ago!

 BACK – Stenson for 0.5 units @ $36+.

The Tour remains in California this week as a very strong field tackles another multi-course format at the Torrey Pines Club in La Jolla, which has hosted the tournament since 1968.

Players split their time between the North and South course pre-cut before playing the final two rounds on the South Course, which hosted the US Open in 2008.

The North course is the easier of the two, however recent renovations have closed the gap somewhat, however it still rates about 2 strokes easier. It plays a shortish 7,250 yards and features one of the highest eagle rates on Tour.

We’ll focus our analysis on the South course as the winner will have played three rounds on it. It plays a very long 7,698 yards with six lengthy par 4s. We’ll certainly be focussing on off the tee performance! Scrambling can also be of assistance if fairways are missed as greens usually have an entry point available.

Over the Odds

Rickie Fowler

Fowler finished off last year strongly, however did go the year without posting a victory. He hasn’t played since December which is probably a factor in the large overlay. We still like him this week but will go a half unit due to the rust factor.

 BACK – Rickie to win for 0.5 units at $30+

Patrick Cantlay

Has the big stick game to give this course a good shake and comes in on the back of excellent form – he was right in contention last week before fading somewhat near the end.

 BACK – Cantlay to win for 0.5 units at $28+

Harold Varner

Varner posted four solid, if unspectacular rounds last week to continue his fine form. We’d like a top 20 bet but the odds aren’t quite there so we’ll settle for a win bet with an eye on laying off during the week.

 BACK – Varner to win for 0.25 units at $260+

The Euro moves to another desert Emirate this week with Dubai hosting the second of the desert swing events. A strong field tackles the Majlis Course this week with seven previous major winners lacing up the cleats.

The fairways are tighter than the usual relaxed desert setups and thick rough makes hitting them crucial. Water is a factor on 10 holes however wind often proves the course’s primary defence. The wind is often a bigger factor for the afternoon wave so keep that in mind if trading in-play – it can make up to a 4 stroke difference in scoring.

With wind such a strong factor we’ll be looking for players with a strong links-style history.

Over the Odds

Bryson DeChambeau

The model rates PGA players consistently higher than their Euro counterparts so it’s no surprise it likes Bryson this week. We haven’t been having much luck backing the favourites but he deservingly heads up the board this week.

 BACK – Bryson to win for 1 unit at $10.50+

Tyrrell Hatton

It’s rare that we find an overlay on a player with a strong course history but that’s the case with Hatton this week who has posted top 10 finishes in his last three starts here including two podiums. Two of his three Euro victories have come on links courses so he has the pedigree to succeed here.

 BACK – Tyrrell to win for 0.5 units at $27+

Victor Dubuisson

We’re going to keep having an interest in this comeback story as the Euro’s forgotten man returns from a long layoff due to injury.

 BACK – Victor to win for 0.25 units at $530+

The putter was ice cold for our man DeChambeau last week but his core stats were very positive. Our analysis has shown that putting performance is the most variable and difficult to predict part of a stick man’s game, so we’re not too worried by this.

On to this week, the Tour heads to the desert of Southern California as the amateurs join the pros to tackle the first of three multi-course setups in coming weeks. With a large field, rounds will be will spread throughout the day, which gives changing course conditions more time to play out.

Surprisingly, there is rain forecast on Thursday and a decent breeze over the opening three rounds. History, albeit brief, says the Nicklaus Tourney course is the toughest to play in windy conditions so keep that in mind if looking at any potential trades.

The Stadium course plays a stroke harder than the two easier resort style courses, with greens well-protected by bunkers. A look back through past winners doesn’t highlight any particular skills required so we’ll stick with straight up overlay-driven plays this week.

Over the Odds

Justin Rose

We had to double check our numbers on this one, but against an incredibly weak field by PGA standards, Rose has popped up as pretty much the best play we’ve seen since this column started.

 BACK – Rose to win for 1 unit at $12+

Patrick Cantlay

It’s pretty rare to have such big overlays on two of the top three but the market seems to have gone a little silly this week and there is big value in the Californian.

 BACK – Cantlay to win for 0.5 units at $20+

CT Pan

Posted a hugely improved 2018, which saw him finish 62nd in total strokes gained over the season. We’re backing the young bloke to continue this improvement and make his first cut at this event.

 BACK – Pan to win for 0.25 units at $120+

After a brief hiatus the Euro is back and is also headed to the desert for the first event of the Rolex Series in Abu Dhabi. DJ and Koepka join the best of Europe as part of a particularly strong field, no doubt helped by generous fees paid to attract the big names.

The course is your quintessential desert track, playing long and flat with challenge being thrown up from the 90 bunkers littering the course. A look back through past high finishers shows a lean towards driving distance, not surprising given the length, although Kaymer’s strong performances show ball striking can atone for a lack of distance.

With that in mind, we’ll be leaning towards the bombers but won’t write off big overlays on a shorter hitter.

Over the Odds

DJ, Brooks and Stenson

Things are getting weird this week, with five of the top six names on the board across both Tours coming up as strong model plays. As much as we dislike backing big names on a Tour as random as the Euro, it’s hard to argue with the value this week.

 BACK – DJ to win for 0.5 units at $7+.

 BACK – Brooks to win for 0.5 units at $14+.

 BACK – Stenson to win for 0.5 units at $19+

We’re back for 2019 as the Tour heads to Hawaii for the Sony Open. One of the longer running tournaments on Tour, the event has been played at the Waialae Country Club since its inception in 1965.

A short and claustrophobic course awaits the 144-man field, limiting the advantage of the big hitters. Approach and around the green play is favoured over driver and flat stick work. With a lot of the field coming off long layoffs, we’ll focus on an interesting stat dug up by Josh Culp – over three quarters of top three finishers in the last 5 years played an event in December or later.

Weather won’t be an issue with sunny skies and light winds providing excellent scoring conditions. If this forecast changes keep an eye on the AM/PM split as wind can have a huge influence on scoring on this course.

Over the Odds

Bryson Dechambeau

The model has finally caught up with Bryson’s incredible 2018, which saw him in contention almost every time he picked up the sticks. He’s played plenty of events in the last two months so shouldn’t be suffering from any rust-related issues.

 BACK – Bryson to win for 1 unit at $14+

Paul Casey

The Brit had an underappreciated 2018, with a victory over a strong field Valspar and two reasonable showings at Majors. With putting and tee shots the weak point of his game the course should suit well.

He went around last week at the Tournament of Champions and the market seems to be reading a bit much into his poor showing as there is a massive overlay on him this week.

 BACK – Paul to win for 0.5 units at $45+

Keegan Bradley

Had a shocker last week which saw his 2019 stats take an absolute beating, however it does give him a pass on our rust test. The model thankfully has a longer memory and we’re going to focus more on his second best on Tour approach game from the 2018 season and excellent driving accuracy.

He’s had a frankly awful record at the course but we’re willing to overlook that given the juicy overlay.

 BACK – Bradley to win for 0.25 units at $75+

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